Homecoming student task force to include 11th student

Kayla Solino | @kaylasolino, Staff Reporter

The homecoming task force announced last week will include an 11th student member, Sarah Shield, whose name was not included in the original announcement. 

Vice President for Student Life Myron Pope announced the student task force on Jan. 24. The group will develop a proposal with guidelines for the homecoming selection process by the end of the spring semester. Pope will review and finalize the proposal in time for the 2022 homecoming election.

Shield and Garrett Burnett met with Pope on Nov. 18 in response to an email Pope sent in late October. The email acknowledged that the Elections Manual “was not written with Homecoming Queen in mind” and called for the creation of a diverse task force. 

Shield previously submitted an appeal for judicial review in conjunction with Burnett and Jack Kappelman in regard to the homecoming timeline, which Shield said the Elections Board disregarded. Burnett and Kappelman advocated for a clearer homecoming election process alongside Shield and attended the sit-in protest in the UA Student Center in early November. 

“The Student Elections Board disregarded the timeline error for the Homecoming Queen election but rescheduled the election for the SGA Senate vacancies on the same grounds thus indicating that it was aware of the violation,” they wrote.

During the meeting, Pope promised Shield and Burnett that at least one of them would be placed on the task force, but not both of them, due to diversity concerns. Shield said Pope told her he wanted the task force to represent the student body.

Shield emailed Pope on Jan. 25, one day after the task force membership was announced, to ask why neither she nor Burnett was included. Pope said it was an oversight and would be corrected.

“Things happen, Sarah,” he wrote. “I overlooked it. We all make mistakes, right? This will be adjusted.” 

Pope said his selection process for the task force was based on verbal recommendations, and he kept a list of those students. 

“I talked to about five to six people who are in leadership positions: faculty, staff, people who were involved with students, and asked for those names,” Pope said. “And on average, I received about 10 names and I tried to look at diversity and look at people who were involved in various activities, represented different organizations.”

Pope said the oversight occurred because Shield and Burnett were not added to the list following their meeting, and the list was his reference when officially forming and announcing the task force. 

Pope apologized but told Shield he was disappointed that she had suggested to The Crimson White that her exclusion was intentional. 

“In my opinion, it’s pretty suspicious that the only person mistakenly left off [the task force] was someone who has been in strong opposition to the way the homecoming election was handled,” Shield said. 

Of the 10 other students on the task force, five have been involved in the SGA. Shield said the students on the task force should also reflect students on campus who don’t participate in organizations like the SGA. 

“Every student should be eligible and able to have the same experience on campus, if they want to have it,” Shield said. “You shouldn’t have to be in organizations to be included. We shouldn’t have to do any of that to be able to sit at the table or sit in the front of the football game. You should be able to just pay to go to school here like everyone else and have access to the same opportunity.” 

Shields expressed disappointment with the other member selections, citing apathy during the homecoming election as a key issue. 

“They didn’t even know there was an issue with homecoming in the first place. They didn’t even know the governing documents of SGA well enough to know that, and now you’re [Pope is] going to put them on the taskforce to fix it.”

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